Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 457–474

Mass flowering of dipterocarp forests in the aseasonal tropics


  • S Appanah
    • Forest Research Institute Malaysia

DOI: 10.1007/BF02703079

Cite this article as:
Appanah, S. J Biosci (1993) 18: 457. doi:10.1007/BF02703079


At irregular intervals of 2 to 10 years the aseasonal tropical rain forests in west Malesia come into heavy mass flowering, followed by mast fruiting. During a heavy flowering almost half the mature individuals and over 80% of the canopy and emergent tree Species in a forest may flower. This involves over 200 tree species in a forest flowering over a short period of 3–4 months. The pollination needs during a mass flowering appears to be overcome in several ways. A rapid increase in the number of pollinators seems to occur in the forest. This is partly caused by the migration of pollinators from the fringes of the forest to forage on the superabundance of flowers. At the same time, some groups of plants which share common pollinators appear to reduce pollinator competition by flowering in interspecific sequence. Many members of the family Dipterocarpaceae have evolved sequential flowering too. They also share unique pollinators, common flower thrips which appear to build up rapidly in numbers by feeding and breeding on the millions of dipterocarp flower buds which are present several weeks before the flowering. The environmental cue for this irregular, but widespread mass flowering can be traced to a small dip of about 2° C below mean night-time temperature for 4 or 5 nights. The conditions for such temperature drops occur during El Nino events.


Mass floweringdipterocarpspollinatorsthripssequential floweringenvironmental cue

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 1993